Category Archives: motivation

Addiction to “noise”

From where I am writing, today is a Sunday (a holy day for Christians) and a hallmark of the day will be going to church for service. The service will encourage people to reflect and introspect on their lives and see how to improve and be better.

But in today’s world listening to oneself has become almost frightening. From Twitter to Facebook , from Snapchat to Instagram , from WhatsApp to Viber we try as much as possible to keep our minds engaged in everything but ourselves. If internet goes down for a minute in your vicinity it will be apocalyptic, if you can’t check your mails for a day, then the world must have ended, if there are no Facebook updates in 5mins then something must be wrong. 

We spend a lot of time connected to virtual reality but disconnected from the reality of our lives.it’s almost like we crave the “noise” so that we may be distracted from the need for reflection and introspection.

If the networks are down we get fixated on the television or the radio or games. When do we stop and listen to ourselves think plan and analyse. 

When was the last time you just sat down and saw the sunset or the sunrise and really marvel at its elegance, when was it you last took a drive just to see the countryside or you just sat with your child to play and tell stories. When last did you have a face to face conversation with your friends that didn’t involve Skype or messenger.

The internet( and technology) has made social interaction simple and extremely easy but it shouldn’t take away from us human and humane interaction, it shouldn’t take the place of self interaction and by all things good it shouldn’t  be a distraction from hearing yourself think.

So take a challenge and shut down all social media and all media for an hour and see if you still recognize the voice of your lonely self.

©Frañcois 

Failure as a stage of success

We live in a world that glorifies success and rightly so. We celebrate the successful and despise the failures, success stories become “motivational” speeches on how to “make it” in life. The successful become celebrities and famous, be it in politics or film ,in industry or science we make celebrities out of those who have achieved.

Now there is nothing wrong in that, except that in celebrating a point in a journey we forget and unconsciously neglect the whole journey. So those who fail amount to nothing, are not reckoned with are despised and  not allowed to talk.

We have naively chosen to forget that success is neither spontaneous nor instantaneous. There is no “big break”, no ” epiphany”, rather success is a  process at the beginning of which you will almost certainly find failure.

The enigma of the Living, is that he who lives has to fail in other to succeed. By trying and failing, you have become a little bit more successful than you were before you failed.

Why?

For every attempt you make to succeed, you break down barriers and obstacles first in your own mind before you go ahead to make an outward effort to be successful. That’s a measure of success; believing that you are more than what you see and striving for greater things.

The problem with failing is not in its nature but in its interpretation. The individual who fails loses self esteem , becomes discouraged, gives up at times , becomes frustrated at other times. But it is in those who see failure as a learning experience and a spring board to try again that you glimpse the power of failure to push , to encourage to motivate to strive more to work harder. It is all because they understand failure not to be the end but a point in the journey just like success ddoes

Some people fail to succeed so they may end up valuing the success more, others succeed without failing they may despise failure and think success is a right, while still some may succeed just to fail ,when they find success again they are wiser and better understand that life is full of points but each stop doesn’t define the journey only the end does.

It is said that the coward dies a thousand times before his death, but I say  the one who fails succedes a thousand times before his triumph.

®Fr

Flowing with life or not…..

It’s an amazing feeling to move without action, at least not any action you perform. To glide through life without any effort on your part.
Swimmers will describe the peace they experience when they just lie back and go where the current carried them. No hand strokes or breast strokes or butterfly strokes ; just be there and the waters will do the rest.
The downside in all this experience is that you end up going where you did not wish to go.
If you don’t have a dream, your life will be spent helping others achieve theirs.
Why flow with life’s currents when you can make an intentional pursuit of a life goal.
Those who are wise said “sustained success is never an accident”. It is intentional, it is planned for and worked towards. When you have an unplanned ” success” ,it doesn’t last. The proceeds of such a success are finished long before you know you were successful.
So, the easy way or the hard way?  Flow with life’s currents or forge your path through the waters of life.

©Fr

Lincoln

This is from the movie Lincoln and I have paraphrased the quote which is ever relevant to us today as we begin a new month.

“I have a compass which only shows true north. It points you true north but doesn’t show you the crevices or swamps or rivers you must cross to get to true north. If in pursuit of your destination you plunge heedless and achieve nothing but to sink in a swamp, then whats the need of knowing true north”

Lesson; What is the essence of knowing what is right if we can’t use that knowledge to become more upright in our dealings with each other. The conscience is the compass of our lives and it will always point true North. Of what importance is it to know your destination in life and then pay no attention to your present reality to allow it help you forge a path to that destination. we must be ready for the unknown in pursuing our goals, the end does not always justify the means.our reality must not be divulged from our path to achieving our goals. We must  be ready to tackle the swamps and crevices we must meet on the way to our goals. We must not look true north and forget that we must forge a path to it.
Do have a profitable month

Fractured Images

The earth’s about five thousand million years old. Who can afford to live in the past?

                                                           Harold Pinter

She has never felt like this before, what is this feeling that she can’t explain? Could this be love, she asks in her mind. And then she remembers and smiles.

This is how her life has been since they met, around him she always felt no need to pretend or to put up facades to protect who she is. With him she was happy being herself. Whenever she hears his voice her heart skips a beat, whenever they are together she yearns to be free like the wind. But in all her happiness she holds back never giving in fully. She is tied down by a haunting memory of decades ago, the memory of an incident that drove her to build walls round her heart. Walls that were meant to keep her from getting hurt. Since the day that memory came into existence she has trusted no man and with good reason too.

Better by far you should forget and smile Than that you should remember and be sad.

                                                     Christina Rossetti

So now even in her joy and happiness, she is expecting to wake up and find out it’s just a dream. But she hangs on as if on tenterhooks wanting to believe and hoping it’s not a dream.

She can’t remember the last time she had a clear thought since meeting him, her mind is all muddled up and she wonders if she has not lost it. But then if only this feeling can continue she can give her mind for it. In the little moment of “sanity” she gets, she wonders what this feeling is that could break down barriers that are decades strong and still standing. As she begins to get lost in the feeling, the memory comes back more vivid than ever almost in high definition reminding her of what she has suffered and the pain she went through.

She knows the memory was forged in pain and her heart only seeks to protect her; but she must make a decision, either to jump or to stay.

Afraid of tomorrow unknown, guided only by a past experienced she looks at the world through a broken window. So the image she sees is always fractured, fractured by an experience forever etched in her memory. After what seems like an eternity of deliberation, she decides on a course of action.

She decided to take a leap of faith into the unknown, into this vortex of feelings she doesn’t understand she decides to give herself. She decides that her past will no longer define her; she has to live to shame the memory that haunts her and has kept her in chains for decades. She decides to love him as much as he loved her and to open her heart fully to his embrace. And since she took that decision, she has never had course to worry and has never looked back.

Dedicated to all sexually abused women who are finding it hard to give their hearts fully to another.

Small Victories

I don’t know much about love either,

except that it gets all mixed up with things

 that don’t have anything to do with it. 

And that it’s awfully hard to find.

                                                            Marita Golden

I recently read the story of an exceptional girl in Canada. Her name is Na’ama Uzan. She was born two years after her elder brother Nadav. She grew up seeing her brother suffer serious health challenges; from recurrent seizures to speech abnormalities and other neurological delays. Her brother has Angelman syndrome which is a rare Neuro-developmental disorder with no known cure. Knowing her brother sickness was incurable, she came up with a novel idea to raise $100 to contribute towards the research for a cure for the syndrome. To achieve this, in the spring of last year 2014 when she was still 4 years old, she started a lemonade stand in the community where they live hoping that by selling glasses of lemonade she can make up the money. Over the months the stand evolved to include muffins and chocolates among other things. This according to the little girl was all aimed at making a contribution to a research foundation for Angelman syndrome, so they can quickly find a cure for her brothers’ sickness.

When community members got to know the purpose of the lemonade stand they went out of their way to contribute to the fund and as of today she has raised a little over $25,000 for the foundation with another $21,000 raised on her behalf by parents of a boy who also has the disease in California, USA.

In respect of her contribution the Foundation For Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) has been able to establish the Na’ama Uzan FAST-TRAC Award (Targeted Research to Advance a Cure),  and promised that every cent she raised is going to Angelman specific research.

She made a difference in the world and most importantly her brother’s life at age 5. She wasn’t a genius or an entrepreneur, or an athlete. She was just a little girl who wanted her brother to be better.

It is not by spectacular achievements 

that man can be transformed, but by will.

                                                               Henrik Ibsen

A lot of times we have been made to believe that it takes a lot to make a difference, that we need all the money in the world or all the talent in the world or that our little contributions will not matter, that only the big ones count. And that’s the malady of today’s society. So we grow up waiting to “make it” before we think of making a difference, we focus on acquisitions so that we can be better positioned to make a difference and yet the irony is that even with all we have and strive for, we still miss out on making a difference in the way that it counts.

The small things are the ones that matter a lot, the homeless man you pass on your way to work every day does not need you to build him a house, he just might need a warm meal, the destitute girl that greets you as you enter your office building may just need your advice and a listening ear. Small victories aggregate to become big ones.

If you cannot help in small measure, by what force do you think you can give when the measure is big. Charity has never been known to demand a lot from us it is always the least that it begs for, attention is what it screams for but never gets. Oftentimes we throw money at circumstances that we could have talked people out of, situations that a listening ear could have made a difference we write checks for.

Don’t get me wrong, money is good to solve problems and propagate charity and indeed make a difference, but paying attention is much better. Because it’s in paying attention that we can really know the problems money can solve and the ones human communication can solve.

How do you make a difference? There is no syllabus for this, and you can start from where you are presently. Do not look for recognition and awards because that is not the goal. You can volunteer to serve food in a soup kitchen near you; you can give out your used clothes to the homeless man on your street. You can offer conversation time to a destitute that seems to need it. It is endless the small things we can do to make a difference in somebody’s life. You might not be appreciated by the person or by society but you are laying a solid foundation to be a better you.

There was this single father who was left with his daughter after his divorce with his wife. As the girl was growing he found it hard to make her hair, as simple as that sounds to women. Eventually deciding he needed help he approached a cosmetologist colleague who gave him advice to get some training in hair dressing. He did, and today his daughter is the better for it, he has made tremendous difference in his daughters’ life. Even if she doesn’t appreciate the gesture now, in later years she will understand the sacrifice her dad made so he could make an awesome difference in her life.

Little things not big things.

As you reflect on these stories and the suggestions swirling in your mind about how best to make a difference, remember that it is about giving and not counting the cost, doing good without expecting a reward. Go out there and make a positive difference in your community.

OF GODS(DESSES) AND (WO)MEN 3

People aren’t inconsistent, but their behavior is.

Mark McCormack

 In this third and last episode of, “Of gods and men” we focus on a man whose legacy in life was not diminished even in death.

He was the adopted son of parents that were not even college graduates. As a child he took interest in repairing electronics a hobby that his adopted father had exposed him to early in life. In elementary school his test scores were so outstanding that his teachers recommended that he skip two grades. Graduating from high school he applied and got admission into college but spent only six months before dropping out on account of financial constraints.

After he dropped out of college he went into business with his friend who was an engineer and helped him market his electronic product to a major video game company. The video game company offered him a job based on the product he sold to them.

He will eventually form a company with this engineer friend when he was 21years old. . Making him one of the youngest entrepreneurs at the time in what will eventually become Silicon Valley. He was worth over a million dollars when he was 23 and over ten million dollars when he was 24, and over a hundred million dollars when he was 25.

The company he cofounded will go on to become a multibillion dollar company producing personal computers and other consumer electronics. In 2011 the company became the most valuable publicly traded company in the world and has more cash at hand than most countries. As of 2014 the company had 147billion USD cash at hand.

In 1989 he was named “Entrepreneur of the decade” by Inc. magazine, he was named the “Most powerful person in business” by Fortune magazine in 2007, in 2009 he was selected as the “Most admired entrepreneur” among teenagers, in the same year he was named “CEO of the decade” by Fortune magazine. In 2010 he was ranked no. 17 on Forbes: “The world’s most powerful people” and was named “Person of the year” by the financial times in the same year.

He is Steve Jobs, entrepreneur, consummate marketer, inventor and cofounder Apple Inc who died in 2011 at the age of 55.

He was adopted at birth and was named Steven Paul Jobs by his adoptive parents. His father was a carpenter and a mechanic while his mother was an accountant. He was taught how to read before he started school and had excellent grades throughout the time he spent in school. The cash crunch in the family will make him quit college after only six months though he kept dropping in on creative classes for about18 months. A calligraphy class he dropped in on will later play a great role in the typefaces used by the Mac computer that Apple makes.

Irrespective of his genius he has been described by co-workers and friends as being an egomaniac and ill tempered. He is said to be rude and has an aggressive personality.

Probably these shortcomings contributed to his ousting from the company he cofounded after only 9 years at the helm of affairs.

When asked why he gets so mad, he reportedly said “But I don’t stay mad” giving an insight into the mind of one who understands his flaws. Steve Jobs was a perfectionist in all things but was not perfect in Character, he was a designer who contributed immensely to electronic aesthetics but his character was a flawed design.

He knew it and he tried to be better following his exit from Apple. He acknowledged this in a speech at Stanford University in 2005, saying he wouldn’t have become who he is if he wasn’t fired from Apple, going further he said, “It was an awful tasting medicine but I guess the patient needed it”.

Steve Jobs was a god among gods, having been described as a visionary, pioneer and genius in the way he revolutionized at least 6 different industries. He was likened to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford of his time.

But Jobs was a man with flaws who achieved and remained successful because he learned from experience and labored to win his character battle.

This week we have seen the desire to be better in character motivate a man to be the best, we have seen bad character cloud the legendary successes of an athlete and today we see character make a genius almost lose it all.

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.

Richard Hooker

You don’t need to get to the edge of the cliff before you step back, you can make a choice not to get to that edge, make that choice and grow your life to be profitable having made wonderful investments in it.

OF GODS(DESSES) AND (WO)MEN 2 [OGAM]

Sometimes I look back on my life

and wonder just how one man

could achieve all I’ve done.

James Brown

In this episode of OGAM, we focus on an exceptional woman and a super athlete, I will tell you a bit about her.

She is the last girl in the family with four (4) older sisters, her father reportedly started coaching her for the sport at 3 years of age, she was home schooled so the training fit in nicely into the day’s activities.

She won her first tournament at 8years old and was ranked no 1 in Florida for the under 10 players at the age of 10. She turned professional at 14, and became world no 1 for the first time at 21. She is the only female tennis player to have won over $60million in prize money.

Popularly named the “Queen of the Court” by the media she has an impressive record of achievements in her 20 year career as a professional tennis player. She holds the most singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles combined amongst active players, male or female.

She has been ranked world No. 1 on six (6) different occasions by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), she is the oldest No. 1 player in WTA’s history. She is the reigning Australian open, US open, WTA Tour Championships and Olympic ladies singles champion. In her exceptional career she has won 34 Grand slam titles making her 7th on the all time list of Grand slam winners. The Grand slam titles are made up of 19 Grand slams in singles, 13 in women’s doubles and 2 in mixed doubles.

In 2014 she became one (1) of only (5) women ever to occupy the No. 1 spot on the WTA  rankings for at least 200 weeks She is the winner of 4 Olympic gold medals and has been credited with launching a new era of power in women’s tennis.

She is Serena Williams younger sister to Venus Williams also an accomplished athlete.

She was born Serena Jameka Williams to Richard and Oracene Williams. At the time of her birth she was the youngest of 5 girls, one of her sisters will later die in a fatal shooting.  She was raised up as a Jehovah Witness and is still an ardent follower of the sect. she was  home  schooled by her father who introduced her to tennis at the age of 3 taking up the responsibility of being her coach, to this day she is still coached by her father. The family moved to Florida when she was 9 where she was placed in a tennis academy. Because her father wanted her to focus on school work she was withdrawn from national junior tennis tournaments when she was ten (10), at that time Serena was ranked No.1 among under 10 players in Florida. When she was 14, her father pulled her out of the tennis academy to take on full coaching responsibilities at home, that year will see Serena Williams become a professional tennis player.

That she is an exceptional tennis player has never been in doubt, some has described her as the greatest female tennis player of all time and others as the biggest thing to happen in female tennis in an era.

Successful as she is, her victories has been overshadowed by complaints of arrogance, disrespect petulance according to some and generally an unsporting and unapologetic behavior even when obviously wrong . Opponents have complained that she is a sore loser and she has been known to verbally abuse match officials and even threaten them. In 2009 her actions cost her match points, money and a 2 year probation, in 2011 she was fined again for unsporting behavior.

She tries to explain these behavioral issues in a Rolling Stone article by painting a weird picture of assigning names to her different personalities.

Hear her: “Summer is my assistant who lives inside my body, it’s weird. She’s very effective. She’s unbelievable. She’s really like organized and she’s amazing. I love her. I remember Megan. I think she was a bad girl. Like kind of like just liked to have a lot of fun. Haven’t seen her in a long time.

“[Psycho Serena] I haven’t seen her either in a while. I have been trying to keep that one under wraps. I think that’s a girl that gets really crazy on the tennis court and just really fights really hard, just takes it a little too far sometimes. Taquanda [is] not allowed to come out. She’s on probation. She’s not nasty. She’s just real keeps it real. And you just definitely don’t want to cross her. Because you cross her, then she snaps. I don’t speak to her very often. I try never to see her. She’s nuts.”

Today she is world No. 1, a super athlete and a champion sportswoman but that does not diminish the negative effect that her bad attitude has on her life of success. She battles these flaws sometimes she wins and at other times she loses. In her story these character flaws have become dark clouds that blot out her successes, turning the focus on themselves.

How much of a flaw can derail success, to what extent can positive influence and encouragements dampen an attitudinal problem?  Does early exposure to fame have a role to play in particular forms of behavioral flaws or in character formation?

We celebrate the success of Serena Williams on the court. The court was her platform to become an inhabitant of Olympus but she is still a mortal even though we see her as a goddess.

OF GODS(DESSES) AND (WO)MEN 1 [OGAM]

Education has for its object the formation of character.

Herbert Spencer

This is the first part of a series that will focus on the character flaws of celebrated and successful individuals. Some of these men and women were successful in getting beyond these flaws; others fought the battle till they died. These flaws whatever they were did not stop them from being successful and in some cases the desire to be rid of these flaws may have influenced their successes years later. By beaming the searchlight on these behavioral issues I hope to bring attention to the humanity of these individuals who seem to us like the gods of mount Olympus. I have no intention of denigrating or demeaning their achievements but to humanize these “gods” and celebrate the fact that they too like so many of us waded through the murky waters of teenage issues and character evolution to become who they are today.

He is known as the “Oracle of Omaha” or the “Wizard of Omaha” or the “Sage of Omaha”, he became the owner of a 40-acre farm while a sophomore in high school and had an employee that was working the farm for him (he bought the farm from profits from his various businesses), at the time he finished college he had almost $10,000 in savings, he became a millionaire at the age of 32 and eventually a billionaire a couple of years later. He is an American financier acclaimed to be the greatest investor of all time, he was listed as part of Time magazines 100 most influential people in the world in 2007 and was listed by Forbes magazine as the richest man in the world in 2008, in 2006 he committed 85% of his wealth valued to be 42billion USD at the time to five foundations with the largest portion going to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation: making it the largest act of charitable giving in US history.

He is Warren Buffett; astute investor, frugal manager husband of one wife and father of three children who has lived in the same house for more than 50years.

Warren Edward Buffett was born to a stockbroker father and a home maker mother. He was the second of three children and was the only boy. His father’s job as a stockbroker greatly influenced how he will eventually turn out. As a boy he was regarded as a mathematical prodigy having no problem in calculating large columns of figures in his head. It is said that he still shows off this ability to his friends once in a while. His school grades were excellent and he exhibited early a knack for investment and financial management. He made his first investment at age 11 when he bought 3 shares of Cities services which he later sold at a profit and by the time he was 13 he was running his first business delivering newspapers and selling magazine subscriptions.

When he was about twelve years old his father won a seat in the U.S House of Representatives and the family had to move from their home in Omaha, Nebraska to Virginia, Washington so that his father will be close to his new post as a Congressman.

According to, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, an extensively researched book written on him, the move to Washington was bumpy and he fell in with a bad crowd.  The hitherto golden boy started unraveling.

He began to miss classes and this became evident in the plummeting of his grades. He took up shoplifting as a hobby, stealing things that were not useful to him. With his new set of friends they will go to a sports store and steal golf balls. At some point in this unraveling he ran away from home.

Things came to a head when his father noticed the obscene amount of  golf balls in his sons closet  and gave him an ultimatum to either straighten out or lose his thriving business of newspaper delivery and magazine subscription sales.

He listened and made changes in his life that will see him become focused on his goals in life to the detriment of other aspects of his life.

His newspaper delivery and magazine subscription business made enough profit for him to buy a 40 acre farm in Nebraska while a sophomore in a Washington D.C high school. He would eventually graduate from college at the age of 20 with about $10,000 in savings from his businesses.

Today he is 85years old and a multibillionaire worth about 70.1 billion USD

The take away from this is that no one is perfect — not even people who have crafted a perfect public image. Buffett’s secret shoplifting adventures just go to show that a troublemaking eighth grader might just end up being one of the world’s brightest businessmen of all time.

And people can change. Buffett undoubtedly learned from his shoplifting experiences. Much later, and with gray hair, he told a class of undergrad students how important it is to hire honest people

Warren Buffet acclaimed investor and proclaimed “Oracle of Omaha” was not perfect, but never stopped working out the chinks in his armor. He kept polishing his character so he could be better. Today we celebrate him as a success ,an Olympian “god” , and forget that he was once a man like us, we forget the lesser battles he fought with himself both the ones he won and others that he lost. These battles made him a god among men.

I can rise above my defects in character and so can you. My tomorrow can only be what I make of it today.